Today we hear from customers and a third party review comparing Microsoft's and Google's cloud email offerings for business. We'll hear from cloud email customers, Olivier Baldassari of Rexel Electrical Supplies, Jake Harris of Aisle7 and Eric Rees with Intero Real Estate Services. All three chose Microsoft Online Services' Exchange Online as their messaging solution.
Email reliability was the concern driving Jake Harris to move away from Google Apps: "What finally made us realize that we needed to seek another solution was that for a period of several months we could no longer be sure that all of our emails were arriving in our Outlook in box."
After his 30 day Google Apps pilot, Eric was alarmed about usability: "When we looked at the differences between Exchange and Google Apps, the biggest thing for us is that the back end effects the front end, and that when we looked at what the front end changes would be for a user, for an agent, in particular how it would affect their Outlook, those things were different enough that we didn't feel good about it."
Head to Head: Google Apps versus Microsoft Office 365
Let's hear more from an in-depth, hands-on review of the two services. Last week's review "Head to Head: Google Apps Versus Microsoft Office 365" in IT Pro Fit for Business reveals telling differences.
The review reveals a disconnected, inferior experience in migrating to Gmail in Google Apps versus to cloud email in Office 365: "To migrate mailboxes you have to run an Outlook sync utility individually and you can't migrate distribution lists, so you have to recreate them. It's initially confusing which tools you need for synchronising and migrating different information and settings to Google Apps, especially as the help pages often refer to old tools that have been replaced. To control who gets which Google services you need to set up organization units… You can also use organization units to restrict which domains users can send email to, but you can't use them to control any other settings so it's nothing like as powerful as AD groups. You can't delete an organization without moving or deleting the users first… Winner: Office 365. Microsoft's product is easier to set up and integrate into your company's existing infrastructure."
Using the Service
IT Pro Fit for Business commented on poor usability for a feature that Google Apps for Business users were missing for years: "Google Apps for Business Gmail users finally get the option to request read receipts, but these have to be enabled by the administrator and Gmail doesn't respond to delivery or read receipt requests in emails sent from Exchange. Gmail only shows the request when you close the message (Outlook shows it when you open the message) and you have to decide for each message as Gmail doesn't have Outlook's 'don't ask me again' checkbox. Even more irritating; if you don't want to send the receipt the button you click is marked 'not now' and Gmail will ask you again every time you read the message." Hmmm. "Even more irritating" is an experience I don't advocate.
So, what happens when business users need email support, including in the critical area of mobile email support involving a wide range of devices and use cases? According to the reviewer: "Support is definitely better with Office 365. Support is requested using the admin console and your requests are managed there, but 24-7 phone support is also available with response times from 15 minutes to four hours depending on the severity. Google Apps also has 24-7 phone support but only for critical problems that involve more than half your users and affect the Google Apps Web services. If the problem was with mobile emails you'd be stuck with email support, which doesn't cover weekends." It seems like with Google you might as well sit on your hands.
Email Security Deserves its Own Discussion
So, what about privacy and security? There is more in the threatening realm of Google Gmail. Whether a Gmail user is a consumer or is using Gmail for business, Google's will scan the user's email to drive targeted ads. Microsoft respects customers' privacy and does not scan its customers' email for advertising. IT Pro Fit for Business' review sums up specific security strengths for Office 365's built-in Forefront features versus Gmail/Postini capabilities:"What you get are the powerful Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) tools; not just malware and spam filtering, but options to safelist specific IP addresses, options for auditing and tracing messages and extensive filtering rules for both inbound and outbound email. You can therefore write rules to stop your users emailing out confidential information such as credit card numbers. You can upload dictionary files when you have a lot of values to use in a filter and manage rules by type; there are a lot more options compared to Postini."
Point of View, Customer
Olivier Baldassari of Rexel explained his reservation with Google's messaging expertise, based on his experience as a Google Apps customer: "Working with a large corporation of users with a tool like messaging which is a business-critical tool is a different beast, and we didn't feel at that time that Google had the breadth of experience we required to support us on a global scale." Google Apps just wasn't good enough for this CIO. If you would like to learn more about why businesses choose Microsoft cloud email and online services over Google Apps for Business, hear directly from Microsoft Online Services customers in this video:
Whether you are an Office 365 customer or a Microsoft Online Services customer using Exchange Online, tell us: Why is Microsoft cloud email simply the best?